Saturday, July 14, 2012

Are you a Christian who is suffering for God?

Purposeful Suffering, I have suffered greatly because  of depressive episodes and the loss of a child. What has helped me the  most I think, is that our Sovereign God who chose me before the foundation of the world  to be a new creature in Christ, uses trials and troubles of many different kinds to accomplish His purpose in making me more like the Son of God.  Suffering/Glory themes in the Bible are a study in and of itself!

My wife Robyn and I  talked about having four children before we were married.  And by the grace of God we were able to do so. We never thought that we would lose Lindsay, our only daughter in a car accident  Lindsay and her daughter Emily Hope were killed by a man in a car who never had a driver's license  and who had  a history of juvenile felonies. On September 11, 2001 he had  been abusing drugs with his two friends. This man according to the Michigan State Forensic office had enough heroin and cocaine in his blood  to put six men down.  He hit Lindsay's car head on, we were right behind her and saw it.   She was eight months pregnant and was going to pick up her husband from his place of employment. She had left the prayer meeting which was called by our pastor that day, to pray for the nation.. I can't began to tell you of the horror of that accident and of hearing the Chief of Police say, I am sorry, she has passed.  But  God had a purpose for our suffering.
He was and always is  in control of everything that happens to His beloved children.  He does not effect evil but He is in control of all things.  This truth is wonderfully seen  in Isaiah 42:;7, which states, I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.

In our book Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You  Feel Like You're Losing It, (Kregel Publications)  Robyn and I talk about the depths of suffering that are experienced by those who are depressed and those who have other types of mental illness.  The spirit of a man sustains his sickness but a wounded spirit who can bear, Proverbs 14:12
When we suffer we are given a choice.  Will we continue to persevere in the faith and glorify God by worshipping Him or will we become offended when things happen to us because we don't understand why we have to suffer.
Our Lord Jesus encouraged and admonished John the Baptist when the  prophet was having serious doubts about whether Christ was the Messiah and was locked up in Herod's dark dungeon  Our Lord Jesus Christ  said said to him (by way of messengers that had come from John). Go and report to John what you hear and see:the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them ;"And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."

Below is one of the greatest statements about the assurance that we must all suffer but it is part of the plan and program of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren   and these whom He predestined, He also called ; and these whom He called, He also justified ; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.   What then shall we say to these things ? If God is for us, who is against us?   Romans 8:28-32 .

 The quote by Spurgeon below has often comforted me in my afflictions.

… But this is the lesson for you.  You only have to bear your  burden for a certain length of time.  The God who appointed you to bear it, also determined  when you were to begin to bear it, and when you are to leave off bearing it.  When God says you only to have ten troubles, the , the devil cannot make eleven of them; and you cannot reduce them to nine.  Every particle of bitterness that is to go in your cup is dropped out with all the care of a qualified dispenser, and there will not be one drop more of bitterness in your cup, than the Lord knew was necessary to make the medicine just what it should be.  I do delight in this truth, and I hope that you do also.”  Spurgeon, Charles. Spurgeon’s Expository Encyclopedia of Sermons, (1984) Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, Volume 2,  p.288
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